ARENA gives funding boost to NSW renewable energy zone

matt kean, transgrid, renewable energy zone
NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean and Transgrid CEO Paul Italiano in Dubbo

Detailed planning of Australia’s first coordinated Renewable Energy Zone in the state’s Central-West Orana region will get underway following a funding boost from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

The $5 million funding agreement with ARENA will enable TransGrid to undertake feasibility and planning works for the Central-West Orana Renewable Energy Zone and to begin engaging with local communities over the coming months to discuss elements like environmental surveys and route identification.

“We are pleased to be working closely with ARENA and the NSW Government to develop the first coordinated Renewable Energy Zone in Australia, where new generation will be co-located with new transmission infrastructure in the state’s Central-West Orana region,” Transgrid CEO Paul Italiano said.

“Investment in the new infrastructure will enable renewable energy providers to connect to the grid and enable more affordable, reliable and clean energy for New South Wales customers.”

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The NSW Government has already committed $9 million to the project and today announced a further $31.6 million in funding for the pilot, including the establishment of a body to oversee the development of the new zone, which will add at least 3,000MW of electricity capacity to the system. The project will represent around $4.5 billion in private sector investment and will provide 450 regional jobs.

“Together with the NSW Government and ARENA, we are preparing for the future by extending and expanding the state’s high voltage network to allow new generators to connect to the grid,” Mr Italiano said.

“By strengthening the National Electricity Market, TransGrid will help deliver cheaper electricity to customers as we start to face the closure of the state’s coal-fired power stations towards the end of this decade.”

TransGrid has collaborated with the NSW Government and ARENA on the project since mid-2019, which is expected to inform the model for two other Renewable Energy Zones in the state’s north and south.

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Together, the three new Renewable Energy Zones are expected to provide the bulk of NSW’s future electricity supply, with more than 17,000 MW of new generation expected to connect over the next 10 years.

The Federal and NSW Governments and the Australian Energy Market Operator support efforts to explore these zones to help enable the nation’s transition to a lower carbon economy.

Construction of the Central-West Orana Renewable Energy Zone is due to begin at the end of 2022.

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